The Fair Use Laws In The United States

One of the common items used on the Internet that people use to justify in media being used on the Internet is the Fair Use in the US Copyright Act of 1976. This is a dangerous stipulation to use to cover your butt when you are posting copywritten pictures, videos, or text.

1976 is a long time for a law to be in place. You have to think that the law has been altered and redefined. This is especially the case in the US Internet Copyright Laws. These have had substantial updates in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2013.

Here are some base rules to live by with the Fair Use that will protect you.

1. Education

- If this is for educational purposes then make sure it strictly meets the guidelines of the school standards.

- Minimize the exposure it gets to the public to help lessen your Fair Use criteria being viewed as Public Work. (No Marketing)

- NEVER monetize or set up the Fair Use work for generating money! Even if it is for charity it has now become a commercial resource and rarely can be viewed as Fair Use.

- Any copy written criteria and/or material should be left in its entirety and you should make is visible that your use of it is Fair Use in accordance to the US Copyright Act of 1976

- Always gain the advice of the professor. If it is educational, they will know what the boundaries are to what is legally allowed for the project in question. If they are uncertain then DON'T USE IT on the Internet. It is better to get a lower grade than a potential lawsuit.


2. Editorial

- The material is used for presenting a perspective through a news medium and can never exceed 10% of the original material.

- Always check the original material's copyright standards. Some resources like the Associated Press do not grant Fair Use in editorials and they will sue if they find out.

- Always give full credit and if possible direct reference to the source material (in the content or foot notes of your material)

- Always best to get written permission from the originator if the material is not General Creative Commons (Creative Commons) or Public Domain.


3. Reviews

- The review should be stated as such in the beginning of the review

- In written media, never exceed 10% of the original content in quotes.

- In game media, only use content where you are directly using the game. If you present material directly from the games (videos, text, graphics, etc.) state that it is directly from the game.

- It is always best to present what the original material is and who the respective owner(s) are.

- A review is opinionated, but the base information of the original material should be 100% accurate and unbiased in presentation.

- Always best to get written permission from the originator if the material is not General Creative Commons (Creative Commons) or Public Domain.


For all of these, if there is direct money being made from the material used through distribution (selling copies of the software, images, or other intellectual mediums), broadcasting (including YouTube), or using the material for your own personal material (using an altered image for a logo or banner, using a quote from a movie or song, etc.), then you are not using the Fair Use portion of the Copyright Act of 1976.

The defining of the Internet Copyright Laws have made the Fair Use criteria very limited, this is where using it as a shield is similar to using a Swiss cheese shield to protect you. The Fair Use criteria now has many holes that have been filled with defined Copyright Laws in the US. The best advice anyone can give you if you are not certain is to have a lawyer review what you are doing and determine if it falls into Fair Use. As a lawyer Music Eternal relies on stated, "Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the Law." It is better to be safe, than sued.

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